JACOPO DA BALSEMO (c. 1425-c. 1503) AND WORKSHOP
The Assumption of the Virgin, leaf with initial ‘G’ from a Choir Book (leaf 495 x 360 mm. initial 152 x 136 mm.)
Italy, Bergamo, c. 1480-1490
This enormous leaf with a grand initial ‘G’ depicts the Assumption of the Virgin. Carried to heaven by eight red angels, the Virgin Mary holds her hands in prayer, as do two apostles below (perhaps Saints Peter and John the Evangelist) on either side of a hilly ground, with the haloes of other apostles stacked immediately behind. A colorful border with three bands surrounds the scene, the initial ‘G’ decorated with acanthus and flower-like swirls, and framed in gold with leafy red and green ascenders spanning almost the entire height of the leaf. The decoration and modeling of faces is distinctive of Jacopo da Balsemo and his workshop, known for a substantial group of Choir Books made in Bergamo in the second half of the fifteenth century. Jacopo is recorded as working on Choir Books for the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Bergamo between 1449 and 1468. The present leaf can be added to a group of seven others (see related leaves below), all of which come from a series of choir books The initial ‘G’ opens the chant Gaudeamus omnes for the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin (August 15th).